WASHINGTON, Mar. 22, 2017 - A group of major livestock organizations has made it clear they’ll be pushing for inclusion of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank in the next farm bill.
Speaking to the House Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Turkey Federation, and the National Pork Producers Council all made their case for enhancements to the nation’s FMD preparedness.
“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire U.S. economy,” NPPC Vice President David Herring said.
NPPC has been pushing vocally for an expanded vaccine bank for some time, but Tuesday was the first public declaration on Capitol Hill from other livestock groups. Sources had told Agri-Pulse the support from other groups would come, but it was a matter of finding the right timing for the request. With House Ag subcommittees asking for farm bill priorities, the groups took the FMD bank request and other various wishes to the committee.
- The FMD vaccine bank would have a price tag of $150 million annually for five years (In its testimony, NPPC said current efforts “are funded at just $1.9 million). That money would go to increasing vaccine capacity – to the tune of about 10 million doses – and ability – through an increased number of covered FMD strains – in the event of an outbreak.
- NPPC, NTF, and NCBA also sounded off against the Fair Farmer Practices Rules – also known as the GIPSA rules – and discouraged their inclusion in an upcoming farm bill. The Obama administration finalized the regulations in December against the fierce opposition of many livestock groups, but a regulatory freeze from the Trump administration has halted implementation.
- NPPC and NCBA took the opportunity to encourage the committee to ignore efforts to bring back country-of-origin labeling (COOL) through the farm bill. The program came under fire after the World Trade Organization ruled that mandating born, raised, and slaughtered disclosure on meat packaging violated international trade statutes. COOL is still in place for poultry, fish, lamb, fruit, and other food products.
- The Obama administration’s organic animal welfare rules also took a beating, with groups saying they should be excluded from any consideration in the new farm bill. Like the GIPSA rules, those regulations have been blocked by the Trump administration.
The groups also made the case for things like strong research, conservation, and trade development funding.